But the Lord said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So I will boast more gladly of my weakness in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and constraints for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor 12: 9-10)
Over the years, I have found great consolation in these words of St. Paul. It’s counter-intuitive for us to think of weakness being strength, but when it comes to our relationship with Jesus Christ, it’s absolutely true.
It’s important to note that admitting our weakness isn’t a cop-out, or defeatism, or an abdication of responsibility. Rather, it’s simply an acceptance of the reality we deal with every day. But why is that?
First, our admission of weakness acknowledges our own sinfulness and imperfection. If I’m honest with myself (and you with yourself), I confess that in my personal history I haven’t always been a paragon of virtue; I have sinned, have often failed, and have made plenty of mistakes. And I know that even now I’m woefully ill-equipped to carry out, all by myself, the obligations and duties that are mine. Because I am a sinner, an “earthen vessel,” I need Jesus.
Second, our admission of weakness is a wise recognition that lots of things in life are beyond our control. Natural disasters, political trends, societal dysfunction, illness and the relentless infirmity of age – are all beyond our immediate control, but all have the ability to disrupt our lives. Truth be told, sometimes we’re just plain powerless to control the forces around us. Because we cannot control everything, we need Jesus.
Third, our admission of weakness is simultaneously a profession of the omnipotence of Almighty God. And there’s a reason we call him “Almighty” God! The Catechism of the Catholic Church affirms: “Of all the divine attributes, only God’s omnipotence is named in the Creed . . . God who created everything also rules everything and can do everything.” (#268) The profession of God’s omnipotence is a recognition of who God is and who we are. Because God is still in charge, we need Jesus.
In short, I find the admission that “when I am weak, then I am strong,” is a very liberating and empowering statement. I will always work hard and strive to do my best, but in the end, I know that I need Jesus.
Something to think about: Do you try to do everything all by yourself?
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